Between ’09 and ’19, passengers using public transit in Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver rose, at 23%, 32% and 42% respectively — and, across Canada as a whole. Meanwhile, in most U.S. cities, it dropped during that same period, as automotive ownership increased and gas prices dropped.
There’s a simple explanation: in Canada, cities run more service, more frequently, for more of the day.
To help understand this, we reviewed several thousand routes’ schedules and organized them into categories of 10, 20, or 30 minutes, or longer, based on the service provided between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays. Then, we added an additional requirement that the route runs some sort of weekend service. This provides a standardized look into how cities’ run their service.
(You can read our methodology below).
Take a look at Toronto, Edmonton and Montréal:
Meanwhile, in comparable U.S. cities, there’s much less frequently-run service.
Look at Denver, Nashville and San Diego:
To map these routes, we had to come up with a standard set of criteria:
- The worst-run service provided between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.
- Provided allowance for up to two outliers, unless that included either the last service, or the last service prior to our 11 p.m. cutoff.
- Excluding limited, commuter-oriented or student-oriented, seasonal, community circulator or shuttle, or otherwise temporary routes. Typically we also excluded rush hour-only routes.
Furthermore, to make our review simpler (and due to technical limitations), we looked at branched routes a bit differently — we looked at the trunk and the branch, and based the entire routes’ frequency on whichever is longer.
And, a couple things to keep in mind:
- These maps are mutually exclusive — they don’t build upon each other. This means the routes shown on a map illustrating routes running 10-minutes (or better) won’t be shown on the map showing routes running every 30 minutes.
- The worst-run service is what we used to categorize routes. Hypothetically, assume a route runs every 12 minutes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., but then drops to every 24 minutes between 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The worst-run service would be 24 minutes — this route would be shown on the map showing routes running every 30 minutes.
- The schedules we used might naturally have been updated since we looked at them, and there’s a range in dates when we reviewed schedules across cities. You can review how we categorized each route, and the date reviewed, here.